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Hands-On: BlackBerry Bold 9900

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May 2, 2011, 8:51 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Phone Scoop takes a close-up look at the new BlackBerry 9900, which has a touch screen and a traditional QWERTY keyboard. Check out our photos and video.

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Research In Motion was showing off its latest BlackBerry at BlackBerry World, the Bold 9900 "Touch." This new smartphone from RIM is somewhat evolutionary, but is definitely a step in the right direction.

As with BlackBerries of the past, the 9900 is extremely well built. The quality of the metallic and plastic surfaces is top notch. The demo units on hand didn't feel like prototypes at all. They were well built and sealed up tight. The Bold 9900 is a lightweight phone, and at 10.5mm, is slim and feels excellent in the hand.

Bold 9900  

The sides are rimmed in metal, and feel strong. The application key, volume toggle, and other controls on the sides felt very good under my thumb, and offered excellent travel and feedback. There's a 3.5mm headset jack on the right side of the device and the microUSB port is on the top.

The keyboard is flat-out fantastic. RIM said that the dimensions of the Bold 9900 are the same as the original, but RIM was able to recover more space for the keyboard. It is 6% larger, and while that doesn't sound like a lot, the difference is palpable. The 9900's keyboard is easily the best that RIM has ever produced. The added space makes for larger buttons, which have a nice shape to them. For those who love physical keyboards, there is a lot to like about the 9900's QWERTY.

Perhaps one of the most interesting new features offered by the Bold 9900 is the new touch screen. This is the first time RIM has married a touch screen with a QWERTY in a monoblock form factor. The new BB OS 7 software, which looks and acts much like BB OS 6, is meant for touch screens and works better when you can make selections on the screen rather than with the optical track pad. The display offers plenty of pixels and looks fantastic. It was highly visible, even under intensely bright lights.

As for the new OS 7 platform, there's very little visually to differentiate it from OS 6. It uses the same basic design for the screens, user interface, and menus. What's perhaps most impressive are the improvements made to the browser. RIM added a bit of HTML5 magic to the new browser, in addition to boosting its Java performance. These updates lead to a much more capable — and much faster — browser. I was able to scan through a few web sites quickly and pages loaded incredibly fast.

The Bold 9900 performed liked a monster. With a 1.2GHz processor under the hood, it was blazing fast all around. Screen transitions, application loading, and overall performance was simply lightning quick.

As is typical for BlackBerries, the Bold 9900/9930 comes in a GSM-only version and a GSM/CDMA world phone version. This means it will be compatible with more of the major network operators in the U.S.

About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.


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May 2, 2011, 7:21 PM

Might be nice...but not what RIM needs to be compete.

I work for T-Mobile and I enjoy selling smart phones all day long. People come in and laugh when I attempt to offer any RIM device. Blackberry is quickly losing appeal across the board (even business oriented customers). I am a fan of RIM, but honestly when you compare a BB to all the new phones out, BB ALWAYS FALLS SHORT.

This phone lacks some serious innovation. For starters, it still has the same display size at the 9700...people are practically begging RIM for a larger screen so they can view content...not to mention FLASH on web pages. A larger keyboard seems nice, but with modern touch screens people are really enjoying swype. This BB might appeal to some business customers, but I see more and more people considering Android phone...
The screen size on bold 9700 is 2.4" and on the new 9900 it is 2.8". Get your facts right buddy. The difference is substantial.

The blackberries are the most reliable phones on the market. They don't need to compete because bb is in a league of it...

May 2, 2011, 11:43 AM


Why does the Bold have the same size screen? 2.8 inches is so puny. There is plenty of room at the bottom & top of this phone to make the screen larger. Look at the Motorola Android Pro, that form factor is so much nicer. Why no improvement from RIMM??
Also, why is the display still '640x480' when iPhone and Android phones are twice as good, twice as crisp?
Also, why is the camera still 5 megapixels when iPhone and Android cameras are so, so, so much better, 8 megapixels??!!
This is ridiculous. Blackberry is using the same specs form the Bold that I purchased back in 2008. Who is running this compnay? How can they be so stupid? How can they ignore innovation? Very, very disappointing.
You're mistaken. 640x480 might be low for a large screen, but it's double what was featured on the Bold 9000, and on a smaller screen it makes the pixel density similar to iPhone 4.

The specs are hugely improved over the original: much faster proce...
BlackBerry has always served a different market. Their primary focus has always been business users, not consumers. Keyboard and email are key, not camera and a huge display for video, etc.
I agree....the screen resolution on a 2.8 inch screen is awesome. 5 MP camera is awesome....apple also has 5mp camera on it. Higher resolution, more RAM and memory plus the 1.2 GHz processor definitely sounds like improvements. Look at blackberry f...
The phone isn't anywhere near the same as the Bold 9000. The processor is a lot faster (which is speaking volumes, since the 9000's processor is still acceptable today), a touchscreen has been added without having to deal with a slider function, there...
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